A fugitive who spent 30 years on the run has handed himself into authorities after Covid-19 left him homeless and jobless.
Darko Desic, 64, escaped from Grafton jail in 1992 and spent decades living in Sydney’s Northern Beaches area working as a labourer and handyman.
But when Sydney’s lockdown began in June to combat a Covid outbreak, Desic lost his job, police sources told Sydney’s Daily Telegraph.
“He slept on the beach on Saturday night and said, ‘Stuff it, I’ll go back to prison where there’s a roof over my head’,” a source told the newspaper.
He surrendered at Dee Why Police Station in Sydney on Sunday morning and was denied bail when he appeared in court on Tuesday charged with escaping from lawful custody in 1992, a police statement said. The charge carries a potential seven-year prison sentence.
Desic was jailed in 1991 for three-and-a-half years for growing marijuana, but on the night of 31 July 1992 used a hacksaw blade and bolt cutters to cut through his cell window and a perimeter fence, police allege.
Born in the former Yugoslavia, Desic told police he escaped from jail because he thought he would be deported once he had served his sentence.
He feared he would be punished for failing to do his compulsory military service in his former country, which has since broken up into several nations.
Desic managed to avoid detection from immigration officials and was granted residency in 2008.
He told police he had spent his entire time at large at Sydney’s northern beaches in the suburb of Avalon, and maintained a low profile but was once mentioned on Australia’s Most Wanted, a true crime TV programme.
Additional reporting by AP